Early Native Americans

In the development of Native American culture, the two periods (phases) of interest in Southeast Missouri are Pascola and Burkett (200 B.C.-100 A.D.). The Pascola phase, in the Little River and Morehouse Lowlands extended west to the Ozark Escarpment. Noted because they represents the early appearance of sand-tempered ceramic tradition in this part of Southeast Missouri. The Burkett phase in the Cairo Lowlands (east of Sikeston Ridge) introduced to the area a clay-tempered ceramic to Missouri. McNutt Prehistory of the Central Mississippi Valley

First Newspaper in Morehouse

The first newspaper published in Morehouse was the Morehouse Sun established by James L. Bailey in 1905. About 1907, it became The Hustler under Claude B. Hay with C. Harvey Burgess, editor .Douglass History of Southeast Missouri. Page 537.


Brown’s Spur

Brown’s Spur, also known as Browns was a flagstop established about 1912 on the St. Louis Iron Mountain Railroad in Scott County west of Sikeston on old U.S. Highway 60. Founded with Mr. Brown was placed in charge of a dredge boat which was digging drainage ditch No.1 west of Morehouse (Wyhaite) sp?. Constructed as a railroad spur on a high spot to receive materials for the work. (Scott County, Missouri Place Names web site.)


 Snags in Mississippi River

 In America’s steamboat era, the main danger to waterborne travel and commerce was neither fire nor explosions, but rather snags—trees that had fallen into the rivers as a result of bank erosion. The current carried them to the center of the stream, and the heavier end, that with the roots, became lodged in the riverbed with the other end pointed downstream at an angle. A snag could punch a hole in a boat’s hull, often causing it to sink. Particularly dangerous were the fallen trees that lay hidden beneath the river’s surface. Snags caused enormous losses of vessels, cargoes, and lives.

During an age when America moved mostly by water, the Corps of Engineers began removing snags and other obstructions on navigable rivers in 1824.

(St. Louis Division of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Facebook page.)

Morehouse 1880

The Missouri State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1879 and 1880 place the community of Little River (later became Morehouse) located on Little River in the northwest corner of New Madrid County on the St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad. The population was 100 and had what they called a common school. Mail was received daily; U.L. Huggins was postmaster, physician, and station master. Business listed was Kerby and Malone , lumber manufacturers; E.J. Malone, general store; W.C Montgomery, hotel proprietor; Benjamin Richards, blacksmith: and M.J. Tickell, livestock  dealer.

Miller, Hunter, editor, Historical New Madrid County Mother of Southeast Missouri   A Project of the High School Department: New Madrid County Teachers Association, March 19, 1948. Reprinted in 1998 for the New Madrid Historical Museum


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    Having grown up on Little River, I have been fascinated with it. Over the past several years, as a local historian, this area has been a special interest. 

     These areas have been treated much like step-children by Jefferson City and Little Rock. They seem to believe nothing has ever happened here.  Our history has been long and varied. Hope you enjoy my trip.  

    Near Puxico is the swampy Mingo Wildlife Refuge. One hundred and fifty year ago, most of the Little River Valley appeared that way. This valley covering two million acres was part of the largest wetland in America.

    Floods frequently intimated the Valley. Between 1815 and 2011, 15 major floods covered or threatened the area.

    Timber companies came in at the end of the 19th Century to clean cut the forest. Louis Houck, a Cape Girardeau lawyer and railroad builder, envisioned a rail network that covered the wetlands.

    Little River Drainage District (LRDD) Corporation was established in 1907 by an act of the Butler County (MO) Circuit Court. 

    Between 1909 and 1928 the LRDD dug nearly 1000 miles of ditches and constructed 30 miles of levees to drain 1.2 million acres of swamp and overflow land in Southeast Missouri. More dirt was moved than in building the Panama Canal.

    One surprise I had was the number of settlements in the area before 1811-1812. Another was the water connection between the Mississippi River and the St. Francis and I had no idea that Little River had enough current to run a grist mill.

    Norman Vickers


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    Little River's Geographic Past